26 Sep 2018

Energy efficiency is more than just the engine

ASAP is about accelerating knowledge and passion for sustainability among leaders of today and tomorrow. Everyone can be a leader – yes you too! Step one is to fully understand different parts of society and business in order to see how things relate to each other. Sustainability is a lot about connecting the dots. That’s why the ASAP project team is happy to delve further into one of the three topics Scania presented in their “partner presentation”.  This time our focus is on energy efficiency and why it’s important. The text is written by the ASAP team, hope you’ll like it!

The first steam engines had an efficiency of only a few percent and required a massive amount of coal for travelling just a short distance. Fortunately, engines have since then been reinvented and redesigned to fit other fuels and are today a lot more efficient. Still, fossil fuels are used in most engines and the CO2 emissions from the transport sector keep increasing. A way to lower the use of fossil fuels is to create even more efficient engines. Basically, it’s better if 1 liter of gas can take you 40 km rather than 20. In 2011, Scania was the first manufacturer to deliver Euro 6 engines – the highest current emissions class – in Europe, and it’s been improved since then. Today, it is the most efficient engines in Europe. That’s pretty cool! Scania’s new generation trucks have an improved fuel saving with 5 percent compared to previous models. Tests show that in the past 24 years the fuel reduction in Scanias engines has been around 25 percent!

But, efficiency is more than just designing great engines. As with many other inventions, an engine is dependent on its user, in this case - the driver. The way a driver operates the machine can affect the fuel efficiency by as much as 10%. So, it also comes down to the human factor. Another important part of energy efficiency is aerodynamics. The air flow is different depending on how the vehicle is designed and can therefore reduce the fuel consumption with a few extra percent.

“ Scania did a study where they tracked 4000 of their vehicles to see if they were being driven at optimal fuel efficiency. The result showed that only 20 (!) trucks were driven the best way with the best settings.”

Scania did a study where they tracked 4000 of their vehicles to see if they were being driven at optimal fuel efficiency. The result showed that only 20 (!) trucks were driven the best way with the best settings. That’s like ordering two bottles of champagne and pouring one out. In other words - it’s an unnecessary waste and there’s room for improvement.

And this is what Scania set out to do in three ways: (1) driver training (2) making sure the customer has the right specification and (3) maintenance on the vehicles. Scania teaches truck drivers all over the world to use the right settings and to drive smart. Changing behaviors is hard. Just imagine changing the way you sleep, or the breakfast you usually eat? Pretty hard, right? To change the way a person drives a truck involves both engineering and a true understanding of the drivers needs and behaviours. Some considerations are hard to make and it’s all about a careful balance. For example, removing sun visors results in higher fuel efficiency but makes the driving more difficult. This is what Scania is working with, incorporating behaviour, attitudes and engineering to overcome the problems the transport sector is facing.

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